Random Café have been using their £7,323 funding from Watford Borough Council’s Neighbourhood Grant to make improvements to its community garden on the Meriden Estate.
The café and shop, which offers food donated by supermarkets that would otherwise go to landfill, opened its community garden in 2020, and it has quickly become a popular venue for community initiatives and events. The garden, which was inherited as a neglected and overgrown space, has been transformed by volunteers into a thriving area with fruit trees, plants, and produce that is sold in the café and shop.
Funding is being used to make the garden more accessible and sustainable, with improvements include levelling and compacting paths around the gardens to make it easier for wheelchair users, less mobile visitors and families with buggies.
Works also include the creation of a patio area, which will provide a pleasant seating area for the local community to enjoy the benefits of a welcoming green space. The installation of solar panels on the port-a-cabin café will also help reduce power usage and increase the positive environmental impact of the café.
These improvements are part of the café's ongoing plans to improve the site, increase its own sustainability and make Random Café as welcoming as possible for people across Watford. Each visitor that buys food from the café and/or shop is helping to reduce Watford's carbon emissions by reducing food waste, since 2017 the café has saved over 80 tonnes of food.
Elected Mayor of Watford, Peter Taylor, said: “The café and shop not only offers food that would otherwise go to landfill, it also serves as a meeting place for the community, providing social events that bring people together. The funding they have received will allow the café to improve their community garden and make it more accessible and sustainable, enabling them to continue creating a positive impact on the local community and environment.”
Founder of Random Café, Jane Johnson, said: “Our community garden has become a popular destination for residents, providing a welcoming green space for the community to come together, learn about sustainability and reduce food waste. With the funding we have been awarded, we can now make it more accessible and sustainable, allowing us to continue our mission of reducing Watford's carbon emissions and creating a more welcoming and inclusive community space.”
The next round of funding for the Neighbourhood Grant will be in open for applications again in summer 2023, however, you can email NCIL@watford.gov.uk if you want to find out more in advance. To read more about the projects, please visit watfordneighbourhoodgrant.commonplace.is.